Review of Ecosystem Protection Efforts by Regulations
Carina Chiscano-Doyle, Mark Nealley, and Suellen Pirages- International Center for Toxicology and Medicine (SESHA Journal Volume 15 Number 3/4 pp. 67 - 77 )
Ecosystem concerns have gained more serious consideration by state and federal regulators since 1990. A series of protocols have been produced by regulators in the last ten years that describe basic principles of ecological risk assessments. Protocols for ecological risk assessments have been developed to provide uniformity and help improve the quality of ecological risk assessments. However, different approaches have been developed by different regions and different programs. The purpose of this paper is to highlight limitations of ecological risk assessments due to the complexity of ecosystem structure and function, with a major focus on issues of concern in the most recent protocol, the Screening Level Ecological Risk Assessment Protocol (SLERAP). Examples are provided for each major area of concern in SLERAP: 1) questionable assumptions are used in the protocol; 2) the methodology is not validated or verified in natural ecosystems; 3) a high level of uncertainty exists due to default values; and 4) there is significant cost in resources necessary to complete the SLERAP. An alternative method for screening is discussed, using comparisons between ecological threshold values for measurement receptors being evaluated.